Birmingham 1-2 Sheffield Wednesday: Gary Hooper scores brace in Owls win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/02/16 6:30pm
Gary Hooper spearheaded Sheffield Wednesday's revival with two goals in three minutes to enable the Owls to boost their promotion aspirations with an impressive 2-1 Sky Bet Championship win over Birmingham at St. Andrew's.
Birmingham, who suffered their first defeat in seven games, had led with a Clayton Donaldson goal after 39 minutes.
Wednesday's revival was impressive as Birmingham appeared comfortable in the lead, only to buckle faced by Hooper's confident goalscoring ability as he took his tally to seven in the last six games.
For a long period it appeared that Wednesday would be heading for defeat only for Hooper to transform the game in an electric three-minute spell when they had Birmingham on the ropes.
In pouring rain, Wednesday suffered a double blow in only the fifth minute when goalkeeper Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson were injured in separate incidents. Unfortunately the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper had to be taken off on a stretcher.
It was a setback for the Owls who had opened brightly with Barry Bannan and newcomer Aiden McGeady showing up well in the early pressure applied on Birmingham's defence.
Birmingham responded with a snappy move instigated by Jon Toral. His astute pass found Clayton Donaldson but the danger was averted by an alert Westwood a couple of minutes before his unfortunate accident.
The 10 minute delay, however, did enable Hutchinson to recover from his leg injury but it was only temporary as he was replaced by Lewis McGugan five minutes later.
Wednesday did not allow these problems to deter them in their bid to gain control, as illustrated when Hooper had a clear-cut opportunity but his shot lacked real power and posed few problems for goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
There was a lot of counter attacking with McGeady in particular a potential danger. He made one fine run only to be thwarted by a solid tackle by Paul Caddis.
But the best chance fell to Donaldson. Put clear by Toral he only had substitute goalkeeper Lewis Price to beat but he bravely closed down the striker to make a vital save.
Wednesday could certainly rue their bad luck. Six minutes before the end of an extended first half Michael Morrison's shot was blocked on the by-line and it cannoned back to run loose into the path of Donaldson to score an easy goal.
In windy conditions, Birmingham might easily have increased their lead when Jacques Maghoma hesitated and his shot was blocked.
The game continued to provide plenty of action. Wednesday stepped up the tempo and Fernando Forestieri had a shot well saved by Kuszczak and from the clearance Maghoma set up Donaldson, who saw Price save at point blank range.
Wednesday could not be faulted in their efforts to equalise, as demonstrated when Ross Wallace produced another good shot which was equally well saved by Kuszczak
They were rewarded in the 77th minute when Hooper carefully aimed a shot past Kuszczak.
The equaliser sparked even more determined attacks from the Owls and three minutes later a fine pass from Bannan found Forestieri who squared the ball back into the middle for the unmarked Hooper to notch his second goal to enable the Owls to complete the double over Birmingham.